Historic Sites of Manitoba: Ninette Sanatorium (Ninette, RM of Prairie Lakes)
The Sanitorium Board of Manitoba operated several tuberculosis sanitoria in Manitoba from the early 1900s until the 1960s. These sanitoria were established and administered to house and care for those living with tuberculosis (TB). At that time, effective treatments were not available to treat TB. Instead, patients were isolated from the general public and prescribed rest and good nutrition.
The Ninette Sanatorium opened in May 1909 near the community of Ninette in what is now the Rural Municipality of Prairie Lakes. Buildings on the site were designed by Brandon architect W. H. Shillinglaw and built by Brandon contractor William Bell. The first patient was admitted on 24 May 1910 and an official opening ceremony occurred a month later.
Over the next several decades, the facility grew into the largest sanatorium in the province, comprising over a dozen buildings. Financial costs to operate the Sanatorium were originally borne by municipalities from which its patients came, based on a levy system. In 1939, the Manitoba government assumed all costs, apart from those incurred in the treatment of veterans and Aboriginal people who were the responsibility of federal authorities.
With advances in medicine, the sanatorium was eventually not required. The facility closed in 1972, by which time it was functioning mainly as a retirement home for its remaining patients. From 1973 to 2000, it operated as the Pelican Lake Training Centre. With a staff of over 100, the Centre provided living accommodations and training to intellectually-disabled people, former residents of the over-crowded Manitoba Development Centre at Portage la Prairie. Only some of the buildings were used during this period and many of the others fell into disrepair and were torn down. After this facility closed, the remaining buildings were used for a time as a Christian conference centre and retreat. They are now vacant.
There are several monuments on the former Sanatorium site. One monument, erected in 1960 by former patients of the Ninette Sanatorium, commemorates the 50th anniversary of the facility, and was dedicated to its staff, including physicians Alfred L. Paine, Edward L. Ross, Donald L. Scott, and D. A. Stewart. Another monument near the former administration building commemorates Dr. Stewart, the first Superintendent of the facility. He is also commemorated by a historical marker erected at the site by the Historic Sites Advisory Board of Manitoba.
Photos & Coordinates
Holy Ground: The Story of the Manitoba Sanatorium at Ninette by David B. Stewart, J. A. Victor David Museum, 1999.
We thank Margaret Bernhardt-Lowdon, Rob McInnes, Janet Moore, and Ronnie Aschenbrenner for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 9 May 2020
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